I keep wondering why it hurts so much to know you’re gone. I can’t even say I knew you.
Remember that December two years ago when the whole metro area was bracing for a blizzard? We all knew it was coming. That Friday night, as the snow began to fall, Connor drove his little pick up truck over to his grandma’s house because it would get him closer to our house. He wanted to be sure he could get here to see Kacey the next day for their two month anniversary. But when Saturday morning arrived, he was snowed in. His little truck wasn’t going to make it out of Grandma’s driveway, much less over the roads to get to our house. Mark managed to get his big truck the mile or so through the snow to pick Connor up and bring him here.
Remember how I told Connor he would have to spend the weekend here? The roads were so bad that no one was driving anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. Connor called you to let you know where he would be and you insisted on talking to me. You wanted to make sure the situation was “cool” and I assured you I would be here all weekend and that Connor would be spending the night in Brad’s bedroom. You and I talked on the phone for a long time that day. You told me how much Connor had talked about spending time with Kacey on their anniversary. You told me then how crazy he was for her. And even though we’d never met, it was so easy to talk with you. I couldn’t wait to meet you. I didn’t know then that my opportunities to get to know you would be gone before we really got a chance.
I knew you’d been sick for a while, but I didn’t know how bad things had become. Connor never said much, and I think I understand. Maybe our house was the place he could come and just be, without having to answer a bunch of questions and without having to bear looks of pity. We didn’t know he was carrying such a big weight on his shoulders and when he came here, Mark picked on him, teasing him just like he does everyone else. I always come to Conn’s rescue and put Mark in his place. Conn knows I’ve always got his back and he plays on it. We’ve had a lot of laughs playing that game.
I understand why Conn didn’t talk much to us about your illness. He’s comfortable here. Really comfortable. Still, there’s a limit to the kind of stuff a kid wants to discuss with his girlfriend’s parents. I get that.
When I found out a couple of days ago that you were dying, I was floored. It hurt so much. I didn’t really know you, but I know your boy and I love him. He’s become a part of our lives and we’ve grown to love him over these past two years. It hurts to see him hurting and not be able to take that pain away from him. I know I don’t have to tell you what a great kid you have. I knew from the moment I met him that I was going to really like him. Even though Connor first made his presence known to us by toilet-papering our trees – several times – I knew I liked him the minute I met him. It didn’t take long to figure out that the toilet papering was his way of getting Kacey’s attention.
Connor is one of those people who loves life. When he comes through our door, he lights up the place. He’s always bursting with energy and he’s always got a plan to have fun. And he finds joy in the simplest of things – like playing football with the guys at the park, or going swimming at the beach, playing with my Lucy Pie or just taking your dogs for a walk with Kacey.
Speaking of Kacey, she really liked you. You probably knew that. I can’t tell you how many times she’d come home and say, “We saw Mama D today! I like Mama D.”
Do you know how much Kacey loves your little guy, Chase, too? She loved when you let Connor and her take Chase for walks in his stroller. She always has a never-ending litany of reasons she finds Chase so cute and amazing.
Connor told us Thursday night that you only had a matter of days left. All day yesterday, I waited and dreaded the news that you had gone. And when Kacey told me last night that you had passed on, all I could think of was your sweet Connor-boy. When he got back from the hospital last night, he wanted Kacey to come be with him at Grandma’s house. I told her to take my car and go. And when Grandma said Kacey could spend the night, I agreed without hesitation. Connor wanted Kacey with him and I wanted her to be there for him.
So as I was out running this morning, I was thinking about you and the fact that you’re gone now. And suddenly I couldn’t breathe and tears began to fall. I thought about the heartbreak your family is experiencing in the wake of your loss and imagined how hard it must have been to let go of your hold on this world and leave your loved ones behind for another. Connor said that you’d been talking about his dad lately and that’s when he knew things were bad. I hope Connor finds some solace in knowing that you and his dad are together again.
And suddenly I realized something. As I was wondering again how I could be so sad over the loss of someone I never really knew, I realized I was wrong. I did know you. I knew you very well. Every time I see Connor, I see you. He is everything good that came from you and his dad. I see a great sense of humor and an amazing ability to rise up again when life is throwing punches. I see a fighter and someone who is always hungry to learn more, experience more, be more. I see someone who loves so easily and to whom family is of the utmost importance. I see someone who loves to laugh and make friends and loved ones happy.
This boy of yours is such a special person. It’s no wonder my daughter loves him. It’s why it’s so easy for me to love him. And this is why it’s so hard for me to know you’ve left this world. I know Connor … all three of your boys will miss you like you’ll never know. And I hope sooner rather than later, they’ll come to terms with the fact that you’ve now found the peace and freedom from the pain that plagued you so much in this world. If I know Connor at all, I know he’ll be okay. He has always talked about his uncles and aunts and grandparents, and I’m glad he’s got such a tight-knit family to wrap him up in their love. We’ll keep loving him too and we’ll help take care of him. I promise.
Rest in peace, Mama D. You will be missed.